Lighthouse Family Retreat 2015

When people ask me how Lighthouse was a couple weeks ago, my answer has consistently been, “Good but hard.”

I would so love to write only about all the cute moments, holding little kids’ hands as we walked to the pool, the smiles on their faces as they hit the dance floor. It would be much easier to leave out the crying with my mom on the balcony or journal entries of frustrated prayers. But if there’s one thing I don’t want to do, it’s paint a portrait of the Jesus-following life as perfect, a constant spiritual high. Honesty is my priority here, so I’m going to be honest: Lighthouse was good but hard.

The first night, I basically freaked. I was anxious about everything in the week ahead, from making friends to worshiping authentically. Crying with my mom on the balcony of our condo, we talked through everything I was feeling. I felt a little better, but still frustrated and worried. Afterward, I journaled like a madman, making lists to calm myself down and talking to God through the page. I went to bed tired and only slightly relieved. The next morning started as a conscious effort to have a positive outlook, to trust in the Jesus I always claimed to trust in. I was willing to get out of bed (read: the deflated air mattress) and try again.

And the week got better.

It was still hard. I will not deny the truth that it is hard to think about what families living through childhood cancer are going through, look those same families in the eye, and believe there’s a God who loves them eternally and completely.

But I do believe that, crazy as it seems. And often, that faith translates to waiting and trusting and trying, so wait and trust and try I did.

As the week went on, it was service with a smile, cute kids dancing, laughing during the talent show. Despite the difficulties of night #1, it got better. I waited for God to show, and He did. I trusted that He had and still has a plan for each and every single person on our retreat. I tried to love the people there and see the best in the situation. Of course, there were still ups and downs, but I can definitively say that they were all worth it.

Because when the bottom opened up right after the talent show on Friday night, when the rain poured down as our family made the trek back to the condo: that was when God spoke directly to me and said that it was for me. It was proof, this perfect storm. He had been there all along, and He knew what He was doing.

The week was good but hard. Good won in the end, though. It always does.